April is National Occupational Therapy Month: Astym treatment technique now available for traumatic and overuse injuries

Occupational Therapy Month at VMH ... April is National Occupational Therapy Month. The Occupational Therapists at Veterans Memorial Hospital provide Astym treatment technique for patients who have experienced a traumatic or overuse injury resulting in chronic pain, weakness and limited motion. Pictured above is Jerry Troendle of Waukon receiving an Astym treatment from Occupational Therapist Tami Gebel during an outpatient visit. Submitted photo.

The Rehabilitation Department at Veterans Memorial Hospital is providing Astym treatment technique for patients who have experienced a traumatic or overuse injury resulting in chronic pain, weakness and limited motion. Astym is an evidence-based treatment technique developed by physicians and therapists at Ball Memorial Hospital, Ball State University, Purdue University and Central Indiana Orthopedics and Sports Medicine.

Tami Gebel, Occupational Therapist at Veterans Memorial Hospital, is certified to perform Astym treatments on individuals who have experienced an injury in the past and had minimal success at getting rid of the pain, had a lingering achiness, weakness or limited ability to complete daily activities and sports.

“All of the therapists at Veterans Memorial Hospital always strive to provide the best and most effective treatments for our patients.  The Astym technique is useful to have as an additional ‘tool,’ especially when some individuals do not seem to have positive results from other treatment methods,” states Gebel.

Astym is a therapy approach that addresses problems such as scarring, fibrosis and degeneration that occurs in soft tissues as the result of an injury, surgery or overuse. Astym treatment stimulates the body’s natural healing response to regenerate soft tissues, decrease pain and improve movement. Astym was designed to address the underlying problems, not just the symptoms.

When an injury occurs, the body’s immediate natural response is inflammation and formation of scar tissue.  Scar tissue is disorganized.  Normal, healthy tissue is organized with a good blood supply. The Astym technique utilizes tools to break down disorganized scar tissue. Then, through the use of custom designed stretching and strengthening, the body can naturally form new organized soft tissue.

Oftentimes, when an individual injures one body part, their body movements following the injury change in order to move so that body part doesn’t hurt.  These compensations result in dysfunction and often causes the pain to “move” or “spread” to another area.  For this reason, Astym treatments incorporate the whole limb, back and/or neck in order to stop the compensating, thus fixing the muscle imbalances.

Some of the diagnoses that respond well to the Astym treatment are:  carpal tunnel syndrome, lateral and medical epicondylitis, DeQuervain’s tenosynovitis, wrist sprains, shoulder pain, plantar fasciitis, chronic ankle sprains, Achilles tendonitis, shin splints, knee pain, hamstring sprains, IT band syndromes, hip pain, low back pain, post-surgical scarring, and most forms of tendinopathies.

Astym treatments decrease pain and increase motion. Rehabilitation treatments occur one to two times per week, and usually last four to five weeks. Patients are encouraged to continue to be active and participate in sports, work and daily activities while receiving therapy treatments.

Those who feel Astym treatments may help them overcome an injury or pain should contact their doctor to receive a prescription for occupational therapy services. They can make an appointment by calling the Veterans Memorial Hospital Rehabilitation Department at 563-568-5528.

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